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Karajan Mahler 6 - exposition repeat = cut-and-paste?

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5against4:
i was listening last night to the Karajan recording of Mahler's Sixth Symphony, and though i was loving it (and still do love it), i began to suspect during the first movement that the exposition repeat wasn't merely a performed repeat but a LITERAL repeat, i.e. cut-and-pasted in the recording studio. So i've just spent time this morning going carefully through the waveform, and i don't think there can be any doubt about it - i've particularly paid attention to a number of tiny tics, mannerisms and accidentally off-beat notes (it was an early horn note that first tipped me off) that are replicated EXACTLY in the repeat.

Questions: First, i'm assuming i'm not the first person to have spotted this? Second: considering Karajan usually didn't perform expo repeats in live performances, is it therefore possible he took this same approach in the studio too, just performing it once and doubling it up in the edit? Third: perhaps i'm naive, but assuming this is what was done in this recording, is it (or was it) common studio practice to do this with expo repeats in standard repertoire?

If this is all widely known and previously-discussed, then of course i apologise, but i've never seen this mentioned anywhere, and i don't recall ever hearing any other recording of Mahler's Sixth (believe me, i have lots) that even remotely hinted that the expo repeat was a LITERAL cut-and-paste job. But now it's got me wondering...! And what other pieces too.....?

Roasted Swan:

--- Quote from: 5against4 on June 15, 2021, 10:50:44 PM ---i was listening last night to the Karajan recording of Mahler's Sixth Symphony, and though i was loving it (and still do love it), i began to suspect during the first movement that the exposition repeat wasn't merely a performed repeat but a LITERAL repeat, i.e. cut-and-pasted in the recording studio. So i've just spent time this morning going carefully through the waveform, and i don't think there can be any doubt about it - i've particularly paid attention to a number of tiny tics, mannerisms and accidentally off-beat notes (it was an early horn note that first tipped me off) that are replicated EXACTLY in the repeat.

Questions: First, i'm assuming i'm not the first person to have spotted this? Second: considering Karajan usually didn't perform expo repeats in live performances, is it therefore possible he took this same approach in the studio too, just performing it once and doubling it up in the edit? Third: perhaps i'm naive, but assuming this is what was done in this recording, is it (or was it) common studio practice to do this with expo repeats in standard repertoire?

If this is all widely known and previously-discussed, then of course i apologise, but i've never seen this mentioned anywhere, and i don't recall ever hearing any other recording of Mahler's Sixth (believe me, i have lots) that even remotely hinted that the expo repeat was a LITERAL cut-and-paste job. But now it's got me wondering...! And what other pieces too.....?

--- End quote ---

Famously in Karajan's recording of Heldenleben, when a split note was pointed out to the great man, he was rather scathing about not believing people would notice and/or be bothered.  But of course people did notice....  One hundred percent Karajan would have sanctioned a recording containing the repeat but whether or not he again thought the us lesser mortals wouldn't notice a cut and paste I don't know.  Or perhaps, they did record the repeat but there were (relative) flaws in it which made the editor opt for a cut and paste.  Of course back in the day of analogue masters this would be a considerably trickier process since there would be an immediate degradation in the master if a copy had to be made to be inserted.  Another possibility I guess is than at the point of creating a digital master - post Karajan's death - a cut and paste version was inserted for reasons unknown.  It would be interesting to go back to an LP original and see what happens there....

Of course ALL recording - studio or live - is a Black Art designed to create the illusion of a continuous/coherent performance.  I am sure there are all kinds of audio sleights of hand in many famous recordings along exactly these lines

5against4:

--- Quote from: Roasted Swan on June 16, 2021, 12:25:14 AM ---Of course ALL recording - studio or live - is a Black Art designed to create the illusion of a continuous/coherent performance.  I am sure there are all kinds of audio sleights of hand in many famous recordings along exactly these lines

--- End quote ---

Absolutely, and i don't have any issues with that - except when the edits are so blunderingly obvious that they ruin the experience (which isn't the case with this Karajan).

It's interesting regarding the analogue aspect: this was apparently recorded in 1975/1977, so therefore before Karajan's digital era, and this perhaps explains why the repeat doesn't seem to have the EXACT same waveform as the first time, since the CD is a digitisation of two different analogue renditions (albeit of the same thing). As a consequence, the repeat also lasts a fraction of a second shorter, presumably for the same reason. But there's no noticeable reduction in sound quality - so perhaps there has been some jiggery pokery going on in the digital remastering stage, though this would surely involve completely re-compositing the audio, in effect creating an all-new version rather than what was originally issued. Hmm, going to have to try and find a rip of the original vinyl to compare...

Biffo:
Not quite on the same scale, Barbirolli's recording of Mahler 5 was found to have a missing note in the horn solo in the scherzo. I am not sure when this was noticed but it was after the recording was released. Years later, when digital jiggery-pokery was available, EMI took Nicholas Busch back to the original venue and recorded the missing note (or possibly the passage in error). The note was then inserted into the recording and appears in later reissues of the disc.

aukhawk:

--- Quote from: 5against4 on June 15, 2021, 10:50:44 PM ---i was listening last night to the Karajan recording of Mahler's Sixth Symphony, and though i was loving it (and still do love it), i began to suspect during the first movement that the exposition repeat wasn't merely a performed repeat but a LITERAL repeat, i.e. cut-and-pasted in the recording studio. So i've just spent time this morning going carefully through the waveform, and i don't think there can be any doubt about it - i've particularly paid attention to a number of tiny tics, mannerisms and accidentally off-beat notes (it was an early horn note that first tipped me off) that are replicated EXACTLY in the repeat.

--- End quote ---

The first and obvious point is that Karajan's Mahler 6 was an analogue recording and the technology to copy-and-paste (as we now use that expression) simply did not exist then.

There was of course the option to copy a passage of music onto another tape recorder, then cut that and splice it into the master.  Or, to make the original recording onto two (or more) tape machines running simultaneously (no doubt DG did this) and cut the passage out of the backup recording and into the master.  These and other options had their pros and cons but were all inferior (technically) to the digital copy-and-paste that is routine today in word processors, forum posts and audio workstations alike. 

If on close inspection the micro dynamics (relation between leading edges of various instruments playing together) seem the same then undoubtedly this (analogue copy) is what was done.  Closely inspected, the waveforms will never be the same because each tape recorder has its own fingerprint - frequency response, distortion, noise - and however you do it in the analogue age, the process requires more than one tape machine.  I don't know that Karajan would necessarily have been consulted on the matter - it's a production decision - but if he was and there was a good case for it, of course he would have agreed to it.  'A good case' would typically be on economic and logistical grounds - recording time with an orchestra is not an unlimited thing.  Decca record producer John Culshaw describes similar 'shenanagans' in his book Ring Resounding about the recording of Solti and the Wagner Ring - which pre-dates Karajan's Mahler by a few years.  He also goes into a lot of detail about the economic and time constraints during that major recording project - it's a fascinating read although he (Culshaw) comes across as rather fawning and sycophantic towards his major artist(e)s - part of the job no doubt.

Come the digital era, and of course the ability to losslessly copy-and-paste was a revolution in audio production terms, and this and a general approach of short takes spliced together (also described in detail by John Culshaw in his book) became ever more routine.  The relatively recent trend towards 'Live' recordings (where 'Live' confers some kind of extra virtue) is a reaction to this perceived process of 'artificial' performances and recordings.  Of course even 'Live' recordings are now subject to the same artificial processes, but presumably on a lesser scale.

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